Local diabetes program earns nod from CDC

Cary Medical Center has received notice that the Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded “preliminary recognition” to the hospital’s diabetes prevention program.  

According to the notice the hospital received, “The award is reserved for programs that are effectively delivering a quality, evidence-based program and have proven to be advanced toward CDC Full Recognition.” 

The diabetes prevention program is part of the Siruno Stroke Prevention Program. The recognition will now allow Cary to enroll in Medicare as a medicare diabetes prevention program supplier.  This enrollment is required before an organization can bill Medicare for in-person diabetes prevention program services provided to eligible beneficiaries.   

According to Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development, it will now be possible for individuals covered by Medicare to take the diabetes prevention program at no cost to themselves because the cost is covered by Medicare. 

“This is really great news for our Medicare patients who are at risk of getting diabetes,” said Flagg, whose office directs the program.  “The high number of people in Aroostook County who are at risk is in the thousands. We hope that the elimination of the cost barrier will encourage more people to take the program and be prevented from being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is a very serious chronic disease.”

The National Diabetes Prevention Program, or Prevent T2, is an evidenced-based program that was tested nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and showed positive results in helping individuals avoid Type 2.  In a recent year-long class provided by Cary, five of the participants achieved recommended objectives.  

Nancy Holmquist, who is the certified instructor for the program, said that she was very proud and grateful to those participants and all of the students who completed the program.

“This program requires a major commitment from participants,” said Holmquist, a former elementary school teacher in New Sweden.  “They must attend 16 weekly classes, then follow up with two classes per month and finally down to one class a month. I was so impressed with my class and I am thrilled that they helped us achieve this recognition.”

Holmquist, who also coordinates the Siruno Stroke Prevention program, pointed out that avoiding diabetes helps to reduce risk for stroke.

‘There are many risk factors for stroke,” she said, “smoking, high blood pressure and obesity.  People with diabetes have a 1.5 times higher risk for stroke than people who don’t have diabetes.  The ability to change your lifestyle, which is taught in this diabetes program, can dramatically reduce your risk for stroke and other serious health problems.”   

The hospital plans to offer the diabetes prevention program in the fall.  Class size is limited to 10 participants. To learn more about qualifying for the program, or to register for an upcoming introductory session, contact the Cary community relations office at 498-1376 or visit Stroke Prevention Program.

The Siruno Stroke Prevention program was established in memory of the late Dr. Cesar Siruno, a longtime general surgeon at Cary.  He suffered a major stroke and died in 2009. At the time of his death his family established a permanent endowment with the Jefferson Cary Foundation.  Income earned by the fund is used to promote stroke awareness and prevention.  

Submitted by the Community Relations and Development Office of Cary Medical Center/Pines Health Services.

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